The Bombay high court last week issued contempt notices to a developer and four government officials, including the collector, for presenting misleading facts about a government plot in Juhu.
Acting on a PIL filed by NGO Save Open Spaces, the division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Anoop Mohta restrained the developer from carrying out any further construction on the plot.
The court also issued notices to Jayant Nikam, superintendent of land records, Jaibharat Mali, Chitnis, senior clerk in the collector’s office, city survey officer, Bandra, and Zodiac Developers asking them why proceedings for contempt of court should not be initiated against them.
“Both respondent number 11 [Zodiac Developers] as well as the collector, Mumbai suburban district, have misled this court in believing that the entire recreation ground area was open vacant land,” the bench said.
“It was never brought to the notice of the court that a large area admeasuring 928 sqm was falling on the nullah and therefore the same could not have been permitted to be used as a recreation ground or covered by construction atop it,” it said.
The PIL, filed through advocate Gayatri Singh, alleged that the developer, who has undertaken a slum rehabilitation project on the land, was about to cover a nullah and purportedly sought to include it in area to be maintained as recreation ground.
According to the PIL, the developer had constructed four buildings on a government-owned plot measuring 2,546 sqm and offered to earmark another open plot having same area.
Accordingly, the builder earmarked a plot, but during course of hearing on the PIL, the civic body pointed out that 928 square meters of the RG area was falling on a nullah.
The judges were irked to note that the affidavits filed on behalf of the collector did not mention the nullah passing through the land handed over by the developer to the government.
The judges made it clear that they may ask the developer to provide about 500 sqm of extra open space so as to deter builders from resorting to deceitful tactics to grab open spaces.